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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published October 20, 2015

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Winnebago system sturgeon spearing license deadline Oct. 31; harvest caps increased for 2016

Contact(s): Ryan Koenigs, DNR Lake Winnebago sturgeon biologist, Ryan.Koenigs@wisconsin.gov, 920-303-5450; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov, 608-770-8084

MADISON - The deadline to buy sturgeon spearing licenses for the 2016 Lake Winnebago System and Upriver Lakes seasons is Oct. 31, with the upcoming seasons promising new opportunities to land 100-plus pound fish and celebrate a tradition with family and friends that dates to the 1930s.

Big fish to date

Chad Cherney's  81.3-inch female topped the scales at 137.5 pounds, making his fish the largest fish harvested during the 2015 season..

The 2015 seasons marked the sixth highest harvest total on record with 2,158 fish taken including 1,870 from Lake Winnebago and 288 from the Upriver Lakes. Chad Cherney harvested the largest sturgeon, an 81.3 inch female weighing 137.5 pounds, said Ryan Koenigs, Lake Winnebago sturgeon biologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

There are separate seasons for Lake Winnebago and for the Upriver Lakes that occur simultaneously, with participation in the Upriver Lakes season determined by lottery. The 2016 season opens on Saturday, Feb. 13.

Again this year, 12-year-olds can participate in the lake sturgeon spearing season if they buy a license. Also, adults whose names were drawn in the Upriver Lakes sturgeon spearing lottery can transfer their tags to youngsters, allowing youngsters a chance to spear on the lakes, where success rates have historically been higher.

Koenig said that thanks to careful management, the fishery continues to produce many fish in excess of 100 pounds, although the 2015 season saw a slight reduction in weights among the largest fish due to reduced abundance of gizzard shad and lake fly larvae. Still, the potential for trophy sized fish remains high in 2016 due to the distribution of age classes currently in the population as fish reach their growth potential.

Successful management of the fishery is among the topics being discussed at the annual meeting of the North American Sturgeon and Paddlefish Society being held this week in Oshkosh, Koenigs said. For 2016, the harvest caps have been raised to 430 juvenile females, 950 adult females and 1,220 males.

How and where to get spearing licenses

Licenses are again $20 for residents and $65 for nonresidents and can be purchased at any license sales location; over the Internet by going to the DNR Online Licensing Center; or by calling toll-free 1-877-WI LICENSE (1-877-945-4236).

The minimum spearing age is 12 years, and youth who turn 12 between Nov. 1, 2015, and the last day of the 2016 spearing season can still buy a spearing license after Oct. 31. Military personnel home on leave can also purchase a license after Oct. 31.

There are unlimited license sales on Lake Winnebago, while the Upriver Lakes fishery is managed by a lottery and limited to 500 permitted spearers. Once a person is authorized to buy an Upriver Lakes license for a season, they are not able to buy a license for Lake Winnebago.

Spearers are now able to transfer Upriver Lakes spear licenses to youth spearers (age 12-17), and can do so by filling a transfer of license form at least 15 days before the 2016 sturgeon spear fishery. Spearers who applied for an Upriver Lakes license in the lottery but were not authorized received a preference point and can still buy a Lake Winnebago license before Oct. 31.

For more information on harvest trends and management of the Lake Winnebago sturgeon fishery, visit DNR.wi.gov and search "Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing."

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Wisconsin chinook spawning run brings in enough eggs to help supply other states

Contact(s): Dave Boyarski, DNR northern Lake Michigan fisheries supervisor, 920-746-2865; David.Boyarski@Wisconsin.gov; Brad Eggold, DNR southern Lake Michigan fisheries supervisor, 414-382-7921, Bradley.Eggold@wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov

MILWAUKEE - The 2015 fall chinook spawning run in the Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan is winding down and has produced enough eggs to supply hatcheries operated by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and support neighboring states.

Although the 2015 spawning run has been later than usual this year and fish numbers have been down as expected, DNR fisheries staff at the Strawberry Creek Chinook Facility in Sturgeon Bay met their goal of 1.5 million eggs needed to produce the approximately 810,000 fish planned for spring 2016 stocking. Meanwhile, the Root River Steelhead Facility in Racine provided 450,000 eggs to the state of Indiana and the C.D. "Buzz" Besadny Anadromous Fish Facility in Kewaunee provided 100,000 eggs to the state of Illinois.

Dave Boyarski, northern Lake Michigan fisheries supervisor, said one last chinook egg collection will take place at Strawberry Creek on Thursday to ensure genetics from some of the later spawning fish are captured.

"Using this phased approach is a key part of our brood stock management program," Boyarski said. "By collecting eggs throughout the run, we ensure maximum genetic diversity in our spawning stock. We have been pleased with the returns at Strawberry Creek, which remains our primary location for chinook egg collection. We are also fortunate to have the Root River and Besadny facilities serving as backups and providing help to neighboring states this year."

Brad Eggold, DNR southern Lake Michigan fisheries supervisor, said fisheries managers anticipated this year's chinook spawning run would be off from recent record highs because in 2013, Wisconsin decreased stocking levels by 30 percent.

"We reduced stocking - as did other states - to better match the availability of alewives, the main food source for chinook," Eggold said. "This is part of the collaborative management we practice on Lake Michigan to help ensure a healthy and sustainable sport fishery that benefits anglers throughout the region."

This year, it is in large part fish from the reduced 2013 stocking class that made their way back home to spawn. Boyarski said this year's run still occurred within the typical four-week window, although lack of rain likely played a role in the delayed start.

"The return of fish each fall can be affected by a variety of conditions including water temperature, lake levels and stream flow," he said.

Going forward, the fisheries managers said, the department will continue to rely on the best available population estimates and models from a variety of state and federal agencies including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey to continue to balance salmon stocking with alewife numbers. Although chinook were originally stocked in the late 1960s to help control alewife numbers, alewives are now at historic lows due to the effects of zebra and quagga mussels as well as predation from previously high numbers of chinook.

At least one bright spot is that recent USGS fall surveys indicate that the alewives had a successful 2015 spawning season this spring and young of the year alewives are now present. Final alewife abundance estimates for 2015 are expected in March.

"The bottom line for anglers is that we are trying to maintain an equilibrium of predators and prey that has produced harvests the last two years that are close to the 46 year long-term average catch," Eggold said. "These average catches are more sustainable and necessary to maintain a productive trout and salmon fishery based on the changing ecology of the lake."

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Wisconsin DNR forestry leaders gain national recognition

Contact(s): Paul DeLong, DNR chief state forester, 608-264-9224, Paul.Delong@wisconsin.gov; Dick Rideout, DNR urban forestry partnership specialist, 608-267-0843, Richard.Rideout@wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov

MADISON - Two forestry leaders from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources have earned national recognition from the National Association of State Foresters.

At the recent annual meeting, the nonprofit group elected Wisconsin chief state forester Paul DeLong as president and honored longtime DNR urban forestry specialist Dick Rideout for achievements in urban forestry. Established in 1920, the National Association of State Foresters comprises state forestry agencies throughout the U.S. and its territories and works to influence forest policy and implementation to optimize social, economic and environmental benefits of trees and forests.

"Wisconsin's proud tradition of leadership in forestry creates numerous economic benefits in our state while supporting recreation opportunities and diverse wildlife," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "Paul DeLong and Dick Rideout understand the historic role and future importance of forests -- both rural and urban -- in preserving our quality of life throughout Wisconsin. We are grateful for their talent and vision."

Paul Delong
Paul Delong
Photo Credit: WDNR

DeLong, a 23 year DNR veteran, was reappointed by Stepp as Wisconsin's chief state forester in 2011, a role in which he leads programs to protect and sustainably manage Wisconsin's 17 million acres of forest land.

"It's a privilege to work with Wisconsin's forest owners and managers, the myriad companies involved in forestry and the many other stakeholders involved in protecting and managing this outstanding resource," DeLong said. "Serving as president of the National Association of State Foresters enables me to champion our successes, highlight our challenges and share the importance of sustainable forest management nationally. Federal policy affects Wisconsin's forests and all those who live, work and recreate in the forest so it is important to influence that policy at the national level. I also look forward to bringing innovations from other states back home."

Each year, Wisconsin's public and private forested lands supply enough timber to power a wood products industry that generates nearly $22.9 billion worth of products and employs more than 59,000 people. While the state's urban forests are not about producing volume, they too contribute strongly to the economy - enhancing property values, reducing energy consumption, producing high-value specialty wood and creating green industry jobs.

Dick Rideout
Dick Rideout
Photo Credit: WDNR

Dick Rideout, DNR's urban forestry partnership specialist and past state coordinator, was honored by the National Association of State Foresters for his work at the state, regional and national level to encourage active, science-based management of urban forests. Jay Farrell, executive director of the association, said Rideout's contributions include developing a database to catalog the state's urban tree canopy and raise funds for urban forest research and college scholarships through the Stihl Tour des Trees cycling benefit. In one recent year, Rideout raised more than $17,000 for the fund.

"Thanks to his ongoing contributions, we're pleased to honor Dick with the 2015 Stewart Pequignot Current Achievement Award for Urban Forestry," Farrell said. "Dick's willingness to share his knowledge and mentor others has elevated the urban and community forestry community nationally. He is motivated by a vision of what urban forestry can be and understands the steps needed to achieve that vision."

Rideout, who has also coordinated cooperative research efforts to increase the number of tree varieties available to urban forestry professionals, is a 25 year veteran of DNR.

"Well-managed urban forests return to communities nearly three times the cost of planting and maintaining them," Rideout said. "I'm grateful to the national association for this recognition and also to our staff and our many local partners who help make Wisconsin's urban forests a vital part of the landscape."

To learn more about Wisconsin's leadership in forest management, search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov and search "forestry"; to learn more about the importance of trees in communities, search "urban forests."

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Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2015 helps set the stage for another exciting fall hunting season in Wisconsin

Contact(s): Sawyer Briel, DNR communications, 608-261-0751; Dan Small, Deer Hunt 2015 Host, 414-588-4082

MADISON - This November, hunters can tune in to Deer Hunt Wisconsin to make sure they are prepared for another exciting fall deer hunt.

Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2015 is the 24th annual hour-long special designed to help hunters prepare for the upcoming deer season. Host Dan Small will interview Wisconsin deer management experts to discuss changes to this year's hunt and offer helpful tips and tricks as hunters gear up and head out into the woods.

Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2015 will air on the following dates on the stations listed:

Thursday November 5

Saturday, November 7

Sunday November 8

Thursday, November 12

Friday, November 13

Saturday, November 14

Sunday, November 15

Monday, November 16

Stay tuned for additional viewing opportunities. For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "deer show." For more general information regarding this year's deer hunt, search keyword "deer."

Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2015 is a production of Dan Small Outdoors, LLC, in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

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Your Tradition, Your Words is back! Share your favorite fall moments in Wisconsin

Contact(s): Trish Nitschke, DNR social media and outreach coordinator, 920-360-3252; Sawyer Briel, DNR communications, 608-261-0751

MADISON - Whether you look forward to fall hunting seasons or candlelight hikes, you can share your favorite fall pastimes with others from all over the world through this year's installment of Your Tradition, Your Words.

In four words of text or less, show us your favorite fall traditions! Videos should contain no spoken words and be less than 15 seconds long. Photos must include your words. For a better idea of what your video or photo may look like, check out one of last year's submissions.

Entries will be accepted Oct. 20 to Dec. 31 and reviewed by Department of Natural Resources staff for submission in a video made available for public view. To enter, simply fill out this form and upload your photo or video. Enter as many times as you'd like!

For more information, visit the department's facebook page and select "Your Tradition, Your Words" under the "more" tab or visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "your tradition."

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Trappers who incidentally capture wolves are encouraged to contact DNR staff

Contact(s): David MacFarland, Large Carnivore Specialist, 715-365-8917

MADISON - Trappers who incidentally capture wolves are encouraged to contact Department of Natural Resources staff and participate in Wisconsin's wolf collaring and monitoring program.

Voluntary participation from Wisconsin's trappers is an important part of the department's work with many stakeholders and partners to monitor the state's wolf population.

In the event of an incidental wolf capture, DNR staff will work closely with the participating trappers to determine if the wolf is a good candidate for our monitoring program. Interested trappers can contact Nate Libal, DNR wildlife biologist, by calling 715-401-1764.

For more information regarding wolf hunting and trapping in Wisconsin, please visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "wolf."

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, October 20, 2015




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